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Pimp Law, Part II: Even if the Woman is Already 'in the Game,' It's Still Pimpin'

Back in March 2011, I wrote here that the California Supreme Court was poised to hear an important issue related to California pimp law: are you offering illegal pimp services if the woman is already 'in the game' (i.e., already a prostitute)?

To recap from my prior post, in 2007, a man named

Jomo Zambia was in his car at a "notorious intersection" in the San Fernando Valley known for its prostitutes. He allegedly asked a woman he believed to be a prostitute to enter his car, explained he was a pimp, and offered his pimp services, "which included providing housing and clothing, if she turned over all of her money to him."

The prostitute was actually an LAPD Officer working undercover, and Zambia was arrested and later convicted of the crime of pandering, as one who "induces, persuades or encourages another person to become a prostitute." California's highest court will now examine whether a defendant like Zambia can be convicted of encouraging another person to become a prostitute when that person already appears to be working as a prostitute. Or, in AP writer Paul Elias' words, the court will define "what makes a pimp in California."

Three months later, the California Supreme Court has issued its opinion in this matter, and I'm afraid the pimp community will not be pleased. The court held in People v. Zambia that the state's pandering law does, in fact, apply to a pimp who recruits a current prostitute to work for him. The court reasoned that

... To encourage an established prostitute to change her business relationship necessarily implies that a defendant intends a victim "to become a prostitute" in the future regardless of her current status. We also think it safe to say that someone who encourages another to become a prostitute is seldom giving disinterested advice about a possible career path. The phrase "encourages another person to become a prostitute" can readily be understood to encompass the goal that the target "become a prostitute" in the future for the benefit of the encourager or some other pimp.

Two judges dissented from this interpretation of California pimp law, however. The crux of their dissent is stated by Judge Joyce Kennard, who wrote that she "cannot fathom how one can 'become' what one already is."

Posted by Bruce Carton on June 3, 2011 at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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